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How technology can help fitness franchises to differentiate themselves and engage new members

by jcp
gawdo

There are over 7,000 health and fitness clubs in the UK, with over 10 million combined members. This makes the UK fitness industry one of the continent’s ‘hotspots’ as more brands capitalise on growing popularity and demand for expert, bespoke fitness services. In this competitive market, fitness franchises must provide a wide range of services and amenities to differentiate themselves from the opposition and attract new members.

Cameron Falloon is the founder and joint CEO of Body Fit Training – an Australian-born fitness phenomenon that uses innovative training techniques to change the way thousands of people work out. As consumer demands and expectations accelerate in all areas of life, he believes that fitness franchises must also embrace the presence of digital services to help separate themselves from competitors and retain and engage new members. In this article, he explains how technology is changing the fitness industry and why utilising tech will help fitness franchises meet untapped markets and drive back-of-house and customer-facing systems.

Technology has only strengthened consumer expectations

The presence of technology in fitness may seem a given in today’s market, but as fitness brands continue to evolve and develop their services, it’s inevitable that they find themselves at different stages of the journey. Whilst training principles will generally remain the same, new technological innovations are regularly changing how we exercise and have ultimately transformed the health and fitness industry over time. Customers are no longer satisfied by just knowing their weight, height and waistline. They want to know more about their day-to-day progress, macro and calorie consumption, body-fat percentage, sleep quality, calories burned, heart rate – the list goes on. So, to keep up with the new demands of an ever-changing industry, fitness franchises must progress and provide new technologies to not only stay competitive in the market but to keep their business running and keep their members engaged.

Enhancing your members’ experience

Fitness franchises should see technology as a way to empower their members to take an active role in their health and wellbeing. One way to do this is to ensure your fitness franchise has a great app. If you do not already have one, an app will significantly enhance your members’ experience by providing a one-stop shop for everything health and fitness. For example, the best apps out there allow members to book classes easily, access sessions and fitness tips, track fitness metrics and receive great nutrition and dietary advice, all at the click of a button. These are all things that greatly increase your member experience.

Another way for fitness franchises to enhance their membership experience is to develop online training services. Since the pandemic, modern gym-goers are increasingly searching for services that work around them, not a gym with specific hours. This is where technology has helped some fitness franchises that deliver long-distance online coaching to excel.

Wearable items that monitor fitness-related metrics also significantly improve your members’ health and wellbeing. They track things such as distance covered in a run, the number of steps completed, heart rate and calories burnt, and provide valuable data about progress and developments. At BFT we developed a bespoke heart rate monitor system – BFT³ (BFT Cubed) – that rewards all styles of training, teaching members to train the right way and follow the prescription of the programmes for optimal results. This innovative technology has enhanced our member experience and is a huge reason why members stay with us for an average of ten months – four months more than the industry standard!

Improving your day-to-day management

Automating your day-to-day administration is vital if you want your fitness franchise to succeed. Like with any business, when you remove the pesky admin tasks, you have more time to focus on maintaining customer service, ensuring you remain profitable, executing promotional activities to increase gym memberships and retention, and managing your employees.

So, if your fitness franchise is going to operate efficiently, employing up-to-date management software is a non-negotiable necessity. For example, without a platform that tracks memberships and billing, you would need another full-time employee to do all the manual record-keeping and payment processing – which begs the question, can you afford not to use tech when running a fitness franchise?

One example of improving fitness franchises’ day-to-day management would be automating a routine task like membership renewals. You can do this by enlisting a membership management system to allow people to sign themselves up, track attendance and sign onto classes online without needing any assistance. There are plenty of membership management systems out there for fitness franchises, so to find the best one for you, I suggest doing your research before investing.

Reaching untapped markets through social media

Newspaper advertising, banners and brochures are no longer the only way to get members through your gym door. This is because the rapid advancement of technology and an abundance of social media platforms have added a new dimension to gym marketing.

At BFT, 80% of our launch marketing is digital and the remaining 20% is grassroots in order to reach a specific audience and engage with them. This is because social media channels, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, your fitness franchise have the potential to reach untapped markets. By sharing advice, video content and client success stories, you are likely to connect to these people and ultimately increase your chances of converting them into new members. Social media channels are also an effective way to transfer your franchise’s culture to the local community anytime and anywhere. Using sites like Instagram or Facebook to hold online fitness challenges or competition giveaways will raise your profile and incentivise membership involvement.

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